Saturday, March 21, 2015

Intentions and Results

By Nick and Tiffani Guinn

"One of the great mistakes is to judge policies and programs by their intentions rather than by their results." - Milton Friedman.

How many times do we begin working on a project or program where the results differ from what we expect? Or a set of policies are designed for our company to help us understand how to handle our hiring practices. However, these outdated and ineffective policies do not work and are only around because they were DESIGNED to do A and consequences B, C, and D are totally ignored as they were not the intention. Could be the person that designed the policy is too far removed from the results to fully understand the results and doesn't think changes need to be made.

This sort of thing happens in our personal and professional lives all too often. But we hold on to our intentions like they are gold and discard the results as unrelated. After all, they do not support the conclusion we wanted or expected. Never mind that those results might tell us a great deal about where we went wrong or how we might aide in improving on our process.

Having a clear goal or intention is critical for success to be possible. Paying close attention to the results and adjusting policy based on those results is equally important.

The quote from Mr. Friedman is an excellent re-focusing tool. Something that should be used to drive the changes needed to improve the outcomes we want. In our personal lives an individual working toward improving their fitness will be much more successful adjusting his plan to fit the results. The same exercise plan based on intentions might work well for someone that is 100 pounds overweight but that food and exercise plan are not likely to get the desired results when the person gets down to only 10 or 20 pounds to lose.

For business or government policy, the intention is important but if they policy does not achieve the desired results, we cannot bury our head in the sand. Examine the results of your efforts with a blank slate. Trying not to seek the expected results only but also how to analyze the unexpected results for their applicability to your future work.

Any intention or goal should drive the work forward and help to maintain focus. In the end, the results should be used to help us understand the effectiveness of our efforts.